As It Comes!

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By John Goodrum
Rumpus Theatre Company
Century Theatre, Coalville

Taking a new show on the road can be a trying experience, especially in these days when venues are reluctant to gamble on whether an unknown production will attract sufficient numbers of theatregoers.

Despite that Rumpus Theatre Company has continued to come up with new works to supplement its repertoire of thrillers, ghost stories and comedies.

As It Comes! is Rumpus founder John Goodrum’s latest foray into the world of farce. It is set in the UK office of the Marvellous Marketing Agency and features circumstances many people may be familiar with:  a newly appointed CEO brought in to give a company a thorough revamp.

Naturally she believes the agency is overstaffed and two of its long-running account managers go head to head, the winner keeping his job while the loser is out on his ear.

Brian Stevens (David Martin) tries to impress new boss Diana Jones (Kia Pope). Above: Timothy Davies (John Goodrum) is startled as Arun Anthony (Pavan Maru) takes over one of his clients

They have less than two days to come up with a campaign for a new wonder drug called Straight Up which is a miracle cure for back pain.

As It Comes! is unlike old-style farces with rapid entrances and exits as well as characters who are prone to losing items of clothing. Instead Goodrum who wrote, designed and directs this comedy relies on the situation for its humour.

Goodrum plays Timothy Davies while David Martin is Brian Stevens. They yearn for the good old days when they worked from home, stayed in bed all morning and got dressed only when they had to check in on a Zoom call.

The two competing account managers find themselves in a somewhat contrived state of affairs: the agency is also working on a new marketing plan for a gin company and samples are stored in their office – the only available space.

The outcome is inevitable. Yet it allows Goodrum and Martin to show how adept they are at playing drunks. The super-strength gin has an immediate effect on their mannerisms as well as their voices, leading to the most hilarious moments of the evening.

New boss Diana Jones (Kia Pope) talks marketing magic with Jilly Jenkins (Karen Henson)

Efforts to impress the new boss by changing identities and pandering to her preferences for how to conduct your personal life also lead to funny instances.

Kia Pope gives an impressive display as new CEO Diana Jones, appearing via video from the Cayman Islands on Zoom calls in the first half before unexpectedly turning up in person to oversee which employee will stay on. Pope is suitably insincere as she calls for “more marvellous marketing magic” from her team.

Karen Henson, strikingly dressed and wearing heavy, black-framed glasses that give her a severe look, is accomplished as Jilly Jenkins, “the line manager from hell”.

She has eyes on the “young, thrusting” employee Arun Anthony, played by Pavan Maru who makes the most of what is mainly a subsidiary role. The highlight is when drunken Arun tries to eat a sandwich while he has a waste-paper basket on his head!

The audience for As It Comes! at the Century Theatre could in no way be described as sizeable. But those who took a gamble to see it were rewarded with a fun evening – and that’s straight up.

* This review originally appeared on the British Theatre Guide website

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